Rock Climbing Shoes: How to Choose
Choosing the best rock climbing shoes for yourself can be a frustrating and painful process, especially if you’re buying your first pair. When you’re standing in front of a wall of climbing shoes, it can be difficult to know where to begin. We’ve written this guide to help you get started.
Our recommendation: La Sportiva TarantuLace climbing shoes
Why?The TarantuLace is our highest-selling shoe, for a good reason. At a good price point, it’s an all-round performer that is also comfortable.
‘Painful’ isn’t a word you should be using to describe your first pair of rock climbing shoes. What you’re looking for is a snug fit, which prevents your foot from moving around inside the shoe.
A loose shoe can make you feel insecure on small footholds. Laces on the TarantuLace allow you to fine-tune the fit to your foot.
What’s more, the TarantuLace’s upper is made of unlined leather, which helps you get a glove-like fit by moulding to your foot shape.
In terms of comfort, the TarantuLace’s flat profile is designed for a relaxed, mild fit. Yet, the shoe is still a good performer: its asymmetric shape curves toward and focuses power on the big toe, helping you stand on small footholds with confidence.
Also consider: Red Chili Spirit climbing shoes
Our recommendation: La Sportiva Mythos climbing shoes
Why? Why a second pair? Well, one of two things might have happened. 1) You’ve worn out your first pair. 2) Your climbing ability has progressed, and you feel like your shoes are holding you back. In both situations, what you need now is a next-level shoe that is comfortable, but performs.
The La Sportiva Mythos is a versatile shoe that does it all. Crack climbing, face climbing, big walls – you name it. There is a reason the Mythos is the biggest-selling and longest-running climbing shoe model in the world – unchanged since 1991. These Italian-made, high quality shoes have a unique lacing system that wraps your foot securely, allowing you to be precise with your footwork. The sticky Vibram rubber performs on both tiny edges and slick slabs, making this the perfect shoe for climbers who want a technical shoe that’s also comfortable.
Thanks to perforations in the rubber rand and a relaxed cut, these shoes are perfect for multi-pitch routes and long days at the crag. The soft, unlined leather, together with the general design of the shoe, helps the Mythos fit both the widest and narrowest feet.
Also, it comes in a women’s specific model.
Also consider: La Sportiva Finale climbing shoes
Our recommendation: La Sportiva Otaki climbing shoes
Why? The Otaki climbing shoe is aggressively downturned, which helps your toes grab and pull on small holds on overhanging terrain. What’s special about the Otaki is that it uses P3 patented technology – a strip of rubber that wraps around the heel and arch – to help the shoe maintain its aggressive shape over time.
You’ll find that this shoe gives you the power you need on steep boulder problems, thanks to La Sportiva’s new heel design that locks your heel in, pushing your toes into the front of the shoe.
Also, Velcro straps make the Otaki quick and easy to get in and out of, making it the perfect shoe for gym climbing, bouldering or projecting hard routes.
Our recommendation: La Sportiva Finale climbing shoes
Why? Thick, 5mm rubber on the soles of the La Sportiva Finale rock climbing shoe make it a durable option, perfect for gym climbing – which is harder on your shoes. Vibram XS Edge rubber – a high quality, super-sticky compound specifically designed for La Sportiva – true to its name, also edges well.
That means you’ll get extra performance out of these shoes. Combined with the fact that they are Italian made, with a soft, leather upper, the Finale is a step up from beginner rock climbing shoes like the La Sportiva Tarantulace.
Tensioned for higher performance, yet not insanely aggressive, the Finales are rock climbing shoes that you should be happy to wear for hours at the indoor climbing gym.
Our recommendation: La Sportiva Katana climbing shoes
Why?The Katana is a popular rock climbing shoe, thanks to features that make it an ideal all-rounder. It’s not as aggressive as the La Sportiva Solution or La Sportiva Otaki, yet it is still one of the best performance rock climbing shoes on the market.
Where the Katana excels is in edging – dealing with tiny footholds with precision and power. This is in part because of its design: the shape of the toe box; the lock-in heel that pushes your toes into the front of the shoe for power; the quality of the rubber (Vibram XS Edge and, in the women’s model, Vibram XS Grip2 – a softer rubber to give light climbers the option to use these shoes to smear polished footholds).
But what makes this shoe stand above the pack of Velcro performance shoes is the quality of its construction. La Sportiva has been producing rock climbing shoes in Italy for generations. The result is a robust leather rock climbing shoe.
Looking for something else? See our full range of climbing shoes here.